Technological watch

Manufacturing and Properties of Binary Blend from Bacterial Polyester Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) and Poly(caprolactone) with Improved Toughness

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) represent a promising group of bacterial polyesters for new applications. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (PHBH) is a very promising bacterial polyester with potential uses in the packaging industry; nevertheless, as with many (almost all) bacterial polyesters, PHBH undergoes secondary crystallization (aging) which leads to an embrittlement. To overcome or minimize this, in the present work a flexible petroleum-derived polyester, namely poly(ε-caprolactone), was used to obtain PHBH/PCL blends with different compositions (from 0 to 40 PCL wt %) using extrusion followed by injection moulding. The thermal analysis of the binary blends was studied by means of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetry (TGA). Both TGA and DSC revealed immiscibility between PHBH and PCL. Mechanical dynamic thermal analysis (DMTA) allowed a precise determination of the glass transition temperatures (Tg) as a function of the blend composition. By means of field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), an internal structure formed by two phases was observed, with a PHBH-rich matrix phase and a finely dispersed PCL-rich phase. These results confirmed the immiscibility between these two biopolymers. However, the mechanical properties obtained through tensile and Charpy tests, indicated that the addition of PCL to PHBH considerably improved toughness. PHBH/PCL blends containing 40 PCL wt % offered an impact resistance double that of neat PHBH. PCL addition also contributed to a decrease in brittleness and an improvement in toughness and some other ductile properties. As expected, an increase in ductile properties resulted in a decrease in some mechanical resistant properties, e.g., the modulus and the strength (in tensile and flexural conditions) decreased with increasing wt % PCL in PHBH/PCL blends.

Publication date: 14/05/2020

Author: Juan Ivorra-Martinez

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym12051118

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.